Who Needs a Car When You Can Drive a Scooter?
My Dad may be a senior citizen but that doesn't mean he's helpless. Despite the fact that he's well in his seventies, he's still as independent as ever. He cooks, he cleans, he does groceries, and anything else he needs to take care of himself.
He even has a new car although he doesn't drive as much as he used to. He says long trips tire him out and the arthritis in his hips is really starting to bother him. But between you and me, the real reason is that he's feeling less confident behind the wheel.
Now I'm not saying that my Dad is a poor driver. It's just that his driving skills aren't quite what they used to be. He's more ... distracted. Yeah, that's it. Things that he used to see quite clearly when he was 40 are slowly becoming invisible as he approaches his 80s. If you ask him though, it has nothing to do with him; it's those stupid inanimate objects that always seem to jump out in front of him without warning. "Oh for God's sake, where did that tree come from?"
Luckily, he drives a small car. He's never been one to buy big boats that need three blocks lead time to turn a corner. This makes the "little dings" a little cheaper to repair although that doesn't change the fact that he's hit a few (too many) walls, pillars and telephone poles over the past five years.
Anyway, you can imagine my surprise when Dad called me up last fall, announcing that he had bought an e-bike.
Me: "A what?"
Dad: "An electric bike."
Visions of my 74-year-old Dad gunning down the street on a motorbike made my hair stand on end.
But it wasn't really a motorbike. It was a mobility scooter -- similar to an electric wheelchair except with handlebars and a front basket. (For your info, mobility scooters come in different shapes and sizes just like cars. If you're in the market for one, you might want to check out the sporty model that comes with upgraded electronics package, leather-trimmed bucket seat, low profile tires, and over-the-top racing strips.)
Anways, this made me feel a bit better. The fact that this was a personal mobility device that didn't require registration or vehicle insurance meant that I didn't have to worry about him becoming a Wild Hog. Or so I thought.
Unfortunately, Dad had his own ideas. Convinced that this new scooter was the electric version of a Harley, he immediately decided to take it out for a spin. On the highway. Where cars normally cruise at over 100 km/h.
Which is also where he got pulled over by the cops.
I can only imagine what may have been going through the officer's mind as he stopped the short, grey-haired man with missing teeth cruising along the side of the highway at 10 mph. The conversation probably went something like this:
Cop: "Sir, you can't ride your electric wheelchair on this highway."
Dad: "But it's an e-bike. Where else would I drive it?"
Cop: "It's not a motorbike, Sir. It doesn't have a licence plate."
Dad: "Oh, do I need one?"
Cop: "No, which is why you need to stay off the road."
Luckily, my Dad got off with a warning. When he shared the story with me afterwards, I tried to keep a straight face. I didn't succeed all that well but I did sigh sympathetically and agree that the cop probably didn't understand the rules of the road because dammit, the "dealer" did say he could ride his e-bike there.
In the end, the important thing is my Dad didn't get hurt. He's now sticking to sidewalks and bike paths when he goes out on his newfound chopper and I breathe a little easier knowing he won't get pulled over by the fuzz. Unless of course he's speeding.